Natural Habitat: Widely distributed throughout swampy and costal lowland areas, of the Southeastern US; including southwestern Mississippi, southern Alabama, southern Georgia, and Northern Florida. Other than a few sites left in Florida, the Needle Palm is close to extinction in natural habitat.
Description: A short and shout, naturally clumping palm that can reach overall heights around 12 feet tall. The palm begins as a single palm, but slowly begins to sucker, forming a dense clump of 5-15 palms. The palm gets its common name from the stiff black or brown spikes that emerge from the palms trunk. The spines may be upwards of 10 inches long, and are very sharp. The shout trunk is rather short, usually only reaching heights of 1-2 feet tall. The palms leaflets are dark green while being very stiff and leathery, helping with the palms cold hardiness. The 15-25 inch wide leaflets form a semi-circle or circle around the petiole (branch), giving the overall leaves a width of around 4 feet.
The oldest palms within the clumps may begin to slump and fall over as their bases disintegrate. The fallen palms do not die, but have the unique ability to root through its ground ridden trunk, and form a new base. This allows the palm to form denser clumps or spread to adjacent areas.
Environment: The Needle Palm enjoys a shady moist area, where it can get constant moisture and a good amount of shade during the day. As a seedling, the Needle Palm enjoys a shady area, where it can get watered regularly. The Needle palm is also very cold hardy handlings sever freeze, frost, and temperatures into the single digits with no to minimal damage. Some reports have it surviving temperatures in the negatives, if protected. Zones 6-10